Capping it off

It’s Thursday night and tomorrow will officially start our 2019 cider season. Actually, strike that. It’s started. James washed out tanks today and the cold brew is brewing for tomorrow morning. We’ll be heading down to Kent with our friend Laura early in the morning to pick as many apples as we can before the rain stars to fall in the afternoon. Before getting stuck into picking, pressing and pumping we thought we needed to do a little review of our cider year.

Cider country: Herefordshire

It’s been a great year for us in shifting our cider to the people. We thought last autumn we made about 2200 litres, but we realised after production that the counter on our pump was busted, over estimating the amounts running through it (we’ve since taken that bit off our pump). We never really thought to correct the 2200l number, but as we’re going to end up selling just over 1600l, that 2200l is definitely wrong. There’s no way we drank/lost during production 600l despite our best attempts. So thank you to all those people who took a chance on buying our cider, whether drinker or vendor. We hope you’ve enjoy it. We have 130l left in tanks of Gigglejuice ready to shift in the next few weeks if anyone wants any.

So last year at this time we felt a little disassociated from the cider community. I’d even go so far to as to say chastised, but that tale is for another day. But in 2019 it was a very different experience. We felt like we were heartily welcomed into the cider (and beer!) community. Thinking back over the last 10 months we can’t believe how many people we’ve met and shared a pint with accompanied by good conversation.

Summer! And the dog Summer!

We wish we could mention all the people we’ve met and shared experiences with, but there’s just not enough time. That said, we’d like to thank a few people we’ve met along the way this year in Ciderville. Firstly to our friends we have made in Herefordshire who have been so supportive, kind, welcoming and inspiring. And they make killer ciders and perries to boot! There is so much positive energy coming from Herefordshire that is pushing real cider into the mainstream and it is very exciting to watch from London. We had a great weekend in June picking up ciders and perries from a handful of producers in the area for our little cider fest in July. Nearly all of the cidermakers took the time to show us around their cidery. Albert and Mike at Ross Cider are two people who we feel have especially looked after us this year. Their festival Ross Fest is a big cider love in like we’ve never experienced before and it has everything to do with what the Johnson’s have created on their farm. We can’t wait for Ross Fest 2020!

Cidermakers share at Ross Fest

Secondly is Ria Windcaller from Cider Chat. Colleen has been listening to Cider Chat for the last year and a half, which has really expanded her understanding of cider production, but also realised how we are apart of something bigger and special. Ria does a fantastic job being the ambassador for cider in the world. We were so lucky to have spent a few days with her in the lead up to Ross Fest this year and hosting her at our home. She was a great house guest and one of the few people who have managed to meet our cat, Piccadilly. Anyone who can charm Piccadilly must have some seriously good vibes.

Ria likely singing about cider here.

Third, we would like to thank our friends at Pellicle Magazine for featuring us on their website. Lily Waite is a killer writer and photographer and we had her over for a memorable interview and cider drinking event. Thanks also to Matt and Jonny for supporting us through their events and tweets. It’s given us a lot of coverage that is probably unwarranted for our tiny operation, but we appreciate you thinking about us.

Lastly, but not least, thank you Anna and Richard for their continued support by putting on great south London beer and cider festivals and for their help pouring pints at Streatham Cider Shack. You two are the best.

Toasting Easter Hill with Anna and Richard

Onto this year. We had aspirations to further expand our production by a couple of hundred litres. First it was going to be in the form of a 220l stainless steel tank. We realised we may not have the space for it, so it became 3 x 60l plastic tanks. But after a bit more thinking, we’ve decided to stay at our current levels of production. A lot of it has to do with our severely limited space, but also the extra work it will give us. We had a great time this year, but it was a lot to do after our full time jobs. Our goal is to keep cider a fun and enjoyable activity and at this point we are not quite sure an extra 200l is going to make it any more fun. It may be disappointing for some people as we won’t be able to supply many more places than we do now, but it’s important to be honest with what we can do.

So it’s getting late and we need to be up early tomorrow to pick up our truck. We’ll sign off now, but I wish all you cidermakers a happy cider season and hope to share a Duckchicken cider with you all soon. Cheers!

We’ve had too much cider and wine obviously
Can’t have enough cider dogs. Jamon and Crumble on guard at the Cider Shack.

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